Some California growers are pressing single variety oils that display the unique flavor profiles of the olive varieties. All olives darken as they ripen and each variety has an optimal ripeness at which it is harvested for oil – some are still green when picked for pressing, others are best when allowed to ripen fully. Here are ten olives commonly grown for oil.
Arbequina olives are tiny, round and originally hail from the region of Catalonia in Spain. They are popular with California growers for the distinctive almond-like flavor of the fresh and fruity oil they produce.
Barnea olives were developed in Israel. They are extremely hardy and produce a remarkably smooth oil with little bitterness or pungency.
Chemlali olives make a sweet and smooth oil with a bit of almond flavor, like Arbequinas. They are common is Tunisian and Moroccan olive oils.
Frantoio olives are widely used in Tuscan olive oils. Its oil is peppery and bitter and pungent and a bit grassy.
Koroneiki olives make a remarkably fruity olive oil, common throughout Greece.
Leccino olives are widely used in Italian olive oils. Their oil is fruity, sweet, and lightly pungent.
Moraiolo olives yield a lightly bitter and pungent olive oil, and are commonly used in Umbrian olive oils.
Unlike most olives grown for their oil, picholine olives are popular eating olives, too. Picholine olive oil is smooth and mild - a great olive oil for people who don't like too much "olive" flavor in their olive oil and for using in salad dressings for delicate spring salads.
Picual olives are from the Andalusia region in southern Spain. Picual olive oil is remarkably peppery with a strong olive flavor that stands up to cooking.
Taggiasca olives make a fruity olive oil with very little of the bitterness found in so many olive oils.
Want to know more about olive oil? Check out All About Olive Oil.